Mollisia cinerea (Batsch) P. Karst. - Common Grey Disco

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Leotiomycetes - Order: Helotiales - Family: Dermateaceae

Mollisia cinerea, Common Grey Discio

Mollisia cinerea, the Common Grey Disco, is a wood-rotting cup fungus most frequently found on dead hardwood, but also occasionally on conifers..


A common find in Britain and Ireland so gregarious that it is not easily overlooked despite its diminutive size, the Common Grey Disco Mollisia cinerea occurs also throughout mainland Europe, from Scandinavia right down to the southern shores of the Iberian Peninsula.

This fungus species has also been recorded in Asia, North America and southern parts of Australia.

Common Grey Disco Mollisia cinerea, closeup

Taxonomic history

In 1786 when German botanist-mycologist August Johann Georg Karl Batsch (1761 -1802) described this species he named it Peziza cinerea. It was the Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten (1834 - 1917) who, in 1871, transferred this ascomycete fungus to its present genus thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Mollisia cinerea.

Synonyms of Mollisia cinerea include Peziza cinerea Batsch, and Tremella cinerea (Batsch) Relhan.

Mollisia cinerea is the type species of its genus.


The genus name Mollisia means soft or weak (spongy, not hard), while the specific epithet cinerea means grey - the fruitbody colour.

Identification guide

Mollisia cinerea, single fruitbody

Narrowly-attached to the substrate, these stemless saucer-shaped (when fully developed) cup fungi are grey with a white margin. The cups are initially round but tend to become oval or kidney shaped, generally reaching no more than 1 to 2.5mm across.

The grey inner (fertile) surface where the spores develop within asci is smooth, while the grey-brown outer (infertile) surface is slightly scurfy

Paraphyses of <em>Mollisia cinerea</em>


Cylindrical, 40-65 x 4-5.5µm; eight spores per ascus.

Paraphyses (pictured here)

Narrowly cylindrical, 2.5 to 4µm in diameter.

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Spores of <em>Mollisia cinerea</em>


Fusiform, 7-12 x 2.5-3µm; with an oil drop at each end.

Spore print


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Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on dead hardwood, particularly beech, birch and hazel.


All year through except during hard frosts.

Similar species

Sarcoscypha austriaca, the Scarlet Elf Cup, is bright red and grows on dead twigs and branches, in mossy woods and sometimes under damp hedgerows.

Culinary Notes

Toxicity uncertain, but these cup fungi are far too small to be of any culinary interest.

Common Grey Disco Mollisia cinerea, on rotten wood, Hampshire UK

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dennis, R.W.G. (1981). British Ascomycetes; Lubrecht & Cramer; ISBN: 3768205525.

Breitenbach, J. & Kränzlin, F. (1984). Fungi of Switzerland. Volume 1: Ascomycetes. Verlag Mykologia: Luzern, Switzerland.

Medardi, G. (2006). Ascomiceti d'Italia. Centro Studi Micologici: Trento.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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